The Imposter

I don’t think I played very well on Echo Fox, so my goal when signing to OpTic Gaming was to prove that I can play at a high level. I wanted to prove that I was the real deal, not just five good weeks from Spring 2017.

Last year, I was lacking a lot of knowledge, discipline and the fundamentals when it came to playing the jungle role competitively. I’m a player that has one-tricked champions for long periods of time and I get to an insanely high level of play on these champions.

I pride myself on the micro of my signature champions and, at the time of my debut, all of them were meta. I think I was able to take people by surprise and compensate for my lack of experience due to my mechanics and micro-mastery of my champions.

When I debuted, I was lucky that I had a favourable meta. The situation was perfect for the type of player I am.

People caught on after a while, though.

Once people notice that you are only playing certain champions in the NA LCS, they’re going to do something about it. Predictably, I started being target banned and it ended up being really bad for me.

My champion pool was shallow and I didn’t contribute much to the macro play of our team. I wasn’t communicating with my teammates optimally or tracking the enemy jungler. I was just going for kills and playing team fights perfectly because I knew what I needed to do with my signature champions to succeed.

Once people got more familiar with me, and the meta shifted towards full tank Junglers that summer, I had to rebuild from scratch. The players with insane fundamentals and macro knowledge were now the kings of the jungle.

Xmithie had the split of his career that summer on Immortals and I think a large reason of him re-establishing himself was that the meta played well to his strengths. He’s very good with map awareness, creative pathing and knowing when and where to pressure, even if he’s not racking up a bunch of kills.

My expectations for the split were high at first, but they dropped pretty quickly. I wasn’t playing well and I definitely wasn’t having the same impact I had during the first few weeks.

I realized that I had work to do on Echo Fox, but I wasn’t sure if I was fully committed to fixing it.

On the one hand, of course, I want to improve and adapt and help my team succeed. But on the other hand, it felt like I was so far behind everyone else.

The meta shifts so frequently in League of Legends and I need a lot of games on a champion to be good on them. It can be disheartening.

For me, realizing how much better other players are in a team context is really daunting.

When you play against someone like Meteos, for example, he has a very specific skillset. You know exactly what he’s going to bring to a team and what he isn’t and he’s good at what he does.

When I realized just how far behind I was in understanding myself on that level, it was hard for me to even develop the ambition to be that good. It was a really tall mountain to climb.

When you talk to the pros, you can tell that they notice everything. All of the small things that most players would never think of in any situation were commonplace, and I wasn’t even sure I could attain that level.

My mental perception of myself was that I was a bad player and that the first five weeks of my career had been a fluke.

That off-season was a little scary for me. I was coming off what was honestly a pretty low-level of performance in the 2017 NA LCS Summer Split. I didn’t play very well and it really looked like it didn’t know what I was doing.

When Echo Fox and I talked, they told me that they were going to look for other options for the starter position. I was for sure going to be able to play, potentially in LCS, but if not, I’d definitely start in the Academy League. I instantly wanted to cover my bases and see what if there were other options for me around the league.

I was the first player that OpTic Gaming signed to their League of Legends roster.

I was happy because I had been given a second chance I felt I didn’t really deserve. I had enjoyed five good weeks in Spring 2017 and that’s all people remembered of me. I don’t want that brief period to be my legacy, I want to replicate it and continue to play at a high level.

A lot of people have told me that I have Imposter Syndrome; where you don’t think you deserve what you have, or that you’re not as good as you actually are.

Last year, even during those first five weeks on Echo Fox, I never once felt that I was good. People would tell me I played well, but in my mind, I just felt that the enemy team had ran it down. I never felt that my advantages were generated by my own abilities or merit.

When I joined OpTic, I said to myself “Welp. I’m going to do this. I’m going to try my hardest to become the level of player I want to become. Where to start?” I just started working.

This year has been a lot of trying to cement my fundamentals. The main thing for me is consistency.

Previously, I’d been one of those players who was either 15-0 or 0-6 in scrims. I’ve been trying to stabilize my game a lot more and trying to assess my strengths and weaknesses better. To actively think about what I can bring to a team or a situation and what my teammates can expect of me. I think it’s going pretty well, I’d say most of the time I am stable.

I’ve learned a lot about how to shot call and play the early game a lot more effectively this year. Even though we haven’t gotten many wins, and the team’s success hasn’t really fully come to fruition just yet, I’ve been trying to stay positive and work on my individual level.

As odd as it sounds, losing a lot early on was actually a great learning experience because we got a lot of mistakes out of the way early. I remember bad calls and thrown games and I think those are mistakes that you have to make at least once so you never make them again.

I think for a player to properly learn something, though, a lesson needs to be learned. It needs to be significant enough to remember.

Earlier this year, we had a game against FlyQuest which we deserved to win… and yet, we lost that game. The feeling I had, watching them smile and come over to shake our hands, that was such a horrible feeling.

I remember the critical mistake that we made and we haven’t thrown in the same way since – it’s only a strength if you recognize your mistakes

I have a “PTSD” portion on the map; an area that I’ve died in so many times that I have subconsciously stopped going there. My coaches call it “The Monkey Zone” because every time I go there, I either die to the enemy jungler 1v1 or get collapsed upon by enemy laners.

I’ve probably died in The Monkey Zone at least 20 times in scrims this year.

I told Zaboutine in January that my aspiration was to be an elite player in the NA LCS; I want to be like Doublelift or Bjergsen and be at the top level in the league.

Zaboutine was honest with me. He said, “You’re not close right now. It’s going to take a lot of work… but I think you can do it.” He’s really invested in helping me develop as an individual, and I really appreciate that.

I’m not just a ball of mechanics anymore. I’ve built up my fundamentals a lot and I’m a much stronger player than I was before.

Whether or not I’m going to make the most of that remains to be seen, but I definitely have more confidence in myself and a better understanding of my abilities.

I’m done doubting myself.

Image Credit: Riot Games

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